Designed in 1929, the International Dragon combines classic elegance with grand prix performance, the world's greatest sailing venues and some of the best sailors on the planet. One of the Dragon fleet's most prestigious trophies is the Edinburgh Cup, which was presented to the class in 1949 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and is awarded annually to the winner of the International Dragon British Open Championship. That first Edinburgh Cup in 1949 was raced on the Solent and hosted by the Island Sailing Club, with the inaugural winners being Frank Woodroffe and Clare Lallow.
In 2017 the Edinburgh Cup will return to the Island Sailing Club once more, the fifth time the club has hosted the event and its twelfth visit to Cowes. More than 40 teams from at least 13 nations will compete from 8 to 14 July in a twin regatta event, opening with the Dragon South Coast Championship from 8 to 10 July, and culminating in the Edinburgh Cup from 11 to 14 July.
"The Island Sailing Club is extremely proud of its long association with the International Dragon Class and in particular with the Edinburgh Cup. The members of the Club presented The Duke of Edinburgh and the then Princess Elizabeth with a Dragon on the occasion of their wedding in 1948, so can truly claim to have been instrumental in the Duke's close association with the class. We are very pleased to continue that close relationship through the Edinburgh Cup's return to the Island Sailing Club this year." Said Chris Thomas, Sailing Secretary of the Island Sailing Club.
The Dragon fleet is well known for its ability to combine serious competition with a full après sailing programme and the event's parties will hark back to the glamorous joie de vivre of the 1940s. The Edinburgh Cup Prize Giving Celebration Dinner Dance will be a black-tie evening and there will be social events throughout the week.
The entry list is expected to include not only the UK's top crews, but teams from Antigua, Italy, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium and as far afield as Finland, France, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Ireland, Turkey, Denmark, Germany, Japan and Australia. Among those racing will be British Olympic bronze medallist Lawrie Smith, who claimed the trophy in 2013 and will no doubt be hoping to make it a hat-trick.
In 1949 Clare Aisher took second place in the opening race of the regatta and lady helms have put in good results on many occasions since. However, it wasn't until 2015 that the Edinburgh Cup was finally won by a woman, when Julia Bailey claimed the winner's laurels in Largs. Julia is also returning to the fray this year in the hope of a second victory, although having crewed husband Graham to victory in Lymington in 2014, it would actually be her third time on the winning boat in four years.
Regatta Chairman Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, who will herself be competing, commented: "I am thrilled that the Edinburgh Cup is once again returning to the Isle of Wight and to Cowes. The Island Sailing Club's reputation for regatta management is second to none, and we are expecting a strong fleet from across Europe, Asia, Australasia and the Caribbean. Our own UK fleet will also be out in force and we look forward to welcoming our visitors and offering them not only great racing but also a vibrant social programme in the great tradition of the Dragon Fleet. We have outstanding support from our sponsor partners Visit Isle of Wight, Destination Cowes, Red Funnel and Shepards Wharf Marina whose generosity will help to ensure this is an exceptional event."
Speaking on behalf of Visit Isle of Wight and Destination Cowes Mark McNeill, Chairman of Destination Cowes, added "Yachting plays a huge role in the day to day life of the Isle of Wight and we are extremely proud that the International Dragon Class has chosen Cowes and the Island Sailing Club for this year's Edinburgh Cup". David Thornton of Visit Isle of Wight confirmed: "We are working in close partnership with Gavia and her team to create a truly unique event and look forward to welcoming the visitors in July and making their stay in Cowes a memorable one."
Red Funnel has created a special ferry travel offer to transport the boats and teams to and from the Island, details of which will be available from the event website at www.edinburghcup.org
Shepards Wharf Marina will provide berthing, launching and recovery for visiting Dragons at a special rate and the Island Sailing Club will provide a launch service from the club to the moorings and marinas. Extended versions of the packages from Red Funnel and Shepards Wharf are also available to any Dragons wishing to remain on the Island to participate in Cowes Week.